Wenona Gardner – White Turtle Rainbow

My letter to Wil Wheaton in response to his blog post on his Depression.

I have been battling mental illness for 20 years, hospitalized repeatedly, and I am currently unable to work trying to live on $737 a month of Social Security Disability. I get really down on where my life has been and currently where it is at. I feel like why does God have me here for? I have a BA in Business from Alverno College but have yet to use it and have a real career. I aspire to be a writer and I am a big fan of Julia Cameron and her Artist’s Way Trilogy of books. I must admit I envy your creative life cause you always seem to be doing great things despite your depression whereas my mental illness I am often incapacitated by mental illness. I am single at 42 living in transitional housing at Salvation Army and I go to an adult day treatment program during the week. I sit here thinking when will my life begin? I am nervous about starting Peer Specialist training in Omaha, Nebraska starting March 31st. A Peer Specialist is a mental health consumer who uses their experience with mental illness and training to help another mental health consumer with their recovery. I was trained as a Peer Specialist in Wisconsin in 2006. I then worked 10 hours a week on a warmline for the Waukesha Mental Health Association for a year. Then in 2007 I worked for a recovery center for adults with mental illness 10 hours a week for 6 years as a Peer Specialist facilitating Artist’s Way Circles Women’s Circles, and Prayer Circles. In 2011, I passed the state exam becoming a Wisconsin State Certified Peer Specialist. 2013 I relapsed with a combination of mental and physical illnesses and lost my job due to my illnesses. I fell in love with an Omaha guy and moved to Nebraska to be with him, but the relationship fell apart as I was hospitalized due to mental breakdowns 3 in one year. Also I found out my Wisconsin State Certification for Peer Specialist does not transfer to Nebraska. Meaning I have to start my training over again March 31 through April 15 then take the Nebraska State Peer Specialist Certification. Hopefully I can do this successfully so at least I can attempt to work again as a Peer Specialist. I am hoping to take all those 20 years of mental health recovery and be some help to someone like you. Have you ever heard of a Peer Specialist where you live? Reason I ask is because talking to a Peer Specialist can help you because they have been there and know from personal experience which some mental health providers lack. I strongly encourage you to try talking with a Peer Specialist. My big dream though I’d love to write a book that is why I admire you so much because you have written your blog and books already.

Sharing your story I realize that I idealized your life but through your depression you are more like me than I realized.



by Wenona Gardner

I sit here



I just got

some bad news.

My heart is heavy.

I wonder is there

any hope for me?

Effloresence: Blooming from the Ashes

By Wenona Gardner

Wabun Anung (Morning Star)

Anishnaabekwe Ojibwe





Often times my life

crumbles as such

each time I have a

mental breakdown.

Sometimes I wonder

how far my mind can

really go in the end.

I wonder how long it will last?

My mind seems to have

great resilience which is

funny because people falsely

assume that mental illness

means weakness not strength.

I know I have limits.

I have decided to reject

Stigma in my life.

I reject it through and through.

Instead my mind is a Phoenix!



from the Ashes!

Great Creator gives me

Beauty for my Phoenix Ashes!

Wounded Healer

By Wenona Gardner

Wabun Anung (Morning Star)

Anishnaabekwe Ojibwe

As a Medicine Woman

I have learned through

my walk on Mother Earth

that my source is a Wounded Healer.

I lead by example,

as I reach in my wounds

and pull out the core of

pain inside to allow ultimate healing.

Once I saw a beautiful video

describing the Wounded Healer

just as it equated to the meaning of

a Peer Specialist as well which I am also.

Peer Specialist is a mental health consumer

who uses their experience and training

to help empower other mental health consumers

to focus on their recovery journey as well.

Again leading by example,

I see the beauty of using

experiences that normally would be

devastating and transforming them to healing.

Great Creator’s power to give beauty for ashes

feels very relative to me as I step out of

the ashes of the Phoenix Soul I have and

transform into something more priceless.

A Child of God.

Crazy Quilt

By Wenona Gardner

Wabun Anung (Morning Star)

Anishnaabekwe Ojibwe

I remember the first time

I experimented with sewing

a Crazy Quilt with my sewing machine.

I cut fabric from old clothes.

As the jagged fabrics

formed on my couch,

I noticed this beautiful

gold print of a Buck on green.

I decided to center the medicine

of deer into my Crazy Quilted pillow.

Deer medicine is about Gentleness.

I remember the majesty of this Buck.

Dancing around the Buck were

random shapes of green, gold, and orange.

I decided to add little bits of beads.

Made me feel happy to see this wonder unfold.

I saw my little pillow of recycled comfort

and I saw it was a mirror to my life.

How I shaped my brokenness into something

beauty and something to soothe my soul.

I hope that the bits of my life can

become something beautiful

as I help others to unfold into something

of a healing balm as a Wounded Healer.


By Wenona Gardner

Wabun Anung (Morning Star)

Anishnaabekwe Ojibwe

Since 2003

I started writing

my memoir

starting first with poetry.

Everytime I wrote

bits of free verse

tumbled onto the page.

I wondered the source?

I attempted to write

short stories of my life

but instead 20 plus poems

poured on the page.

I wondered if my heart

wrote prose naturally in

poetic rhythm and form.

I wrote my life in broken pieces.

Hoping that some day

these pieces could be

mended together and

form a Crazy Quilt.

Two Step

By Wenona Gardner

Wabun Anung (Morning Star)

Anishnaabekwe Ojibwe


Step by step

come dance with me

my love to the heart beat

of Mother Earth’s heart drum.


Love is in your eyes.

We first danced our first

Two Step dance in the house

through the halls

playing an Internet video.


I held your hands

we moved & stepped through

the carpeted living room and

through the kitchen floor.


Boom ba, Boom ba,  Boom ba, Boom ba,

went my heart as

Great Creator danced with us.

I spun you around our kitchen. LOL


My heart smiles when I think of

that simple memory as we take

our first steps as lovers

through the winter of the year.


Hoping to dance with you again

Baby in the coming of the

the Pow Wow season is here.

I want to dance with you for all time Polaris!


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